"America hasn't really changed between black and white, has it?"
This was a frequent question I'd receive while living in Germany from 2011 to 2013. I guess getting the answer straight from someone black would have quenched their thirst for information about America. My answer was generally the same:
"Sure, America has changed," I'd reassure them. "Just not everything."
An expression of disbelief would cover their faces as I explained what has and hasn't changed.
And then...Trayvon Martin. That was the unarmed 17-year-old African-American teenager who was shot in Florida by George Zimmerman. They couldn't understand that at all. And when Zimmerman was acquitted, they definitely couldn't understand that. I could read their minds on their faces:
"America hasn't changed at all."
Being someone who was born before the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I'd lived through those changes. But we still have a long way to go. A long way! But I was seeing my own country as those who live outside the US do. As those who've never been here. Without the counterbalance of the beautiful things we have to offer, America was looking pretty shoddy.
Stop-and-Frisk. President Obama's treatment by his opposition. Not to mention, the feeling of waking up to see another mass shooting had struck! Can we look any worse?
Yes we can!
At this moment, Donald J. Trump is in position to win the Republican presidential nomination. Coming off his win of the New Hampshire primary, he's leading in the polls in South Carolina and Nevada by at least 20 points.
He wants to ban Muslims from entering the country. He's retweeted a Neo-Nazi/white supremacist Twitter account more than once. Included on the timeline of this account was an image of Bernie Sanders in a gas chamber with The Donald's finger on the button. Did Trump see this? He remembers Sanders is Jewish, right?
Trump unapologetically uses profanity and sexist language at his campaign events. He loves it when his supporters get physical with his detractors, especially when they're black and brown people. Or when they're Muslim. In his world, it makes sense. He believes Muslims are dangerous, 81% of all murders of white people are committed by African-Americans, and those coming across the border from Mexico are largely criminals and rapists.
His supporters have also yelled out inflammatory and racist language, much to the delight of Mr. Trump. As a black protester was being lead out of one of his events, one supporter was captured on video shouting "Sieg Heil!", the infamous Nazi salute. Another video reportedly captured that protester being "punched and kicked" by a group of Trump supporters before being taken out.
Donald Trump later said on FoxNews, "Maybe he should have been roughed up."
At a Trump rally in Alabama, on more than one occasion, supporters could be heard shouting, "White Power!"
Now, I'm not implying all of Trump's supporters are Neo-Nazis or racists. Many feel he'd make a strong leader and he's bucking the "political correctness" they believe is destroying the country. But one segment of our fellow citizens just loves the tune The Donald is singing.
During the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary, a white nationalist SuperPac (yes, they do exist) made robocalls on behalf of Trump. Automatic political calls have always annoyed me, but I don't even want to think about getting one of these:
"I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America...We don't need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump."
Oh boy, I can imagine those questions, if I were still in Germany. A racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, sexist could possibly become the 45th President of the United States.
However, it appears that Trump has infected the entire GOP primary race. He's sucking the oxygen out of the room and others are beginning to lower their standards to the company they're keeping just to get noticed.
For example, Ted Cruz is proud to have the support of Ted Nugent, the "Motor City Nut Job", as I call him. You remember him, right? In the past, he's made public statements that could be interpreted as death threats against President Obama. On February 8th of this year, he posted an image on his Facebook page, titled "Who's to blame for gun control?" According to Nugent, the Jews are. He listed 12 Jewish Americans, marked with the Israeli flag and antisemitic titles. For example, he described Michael Bloomberg as the "Jew York City mayor".
In addition to being a Cruz supporter, he's a board member of the National Rifle Association. Nice, huh?
The GOP primary race is looking more and more like America's barf bag of political ideas. I believe the whole world is getting a whiff of the stench and it's quite rancid.
God bless America...please.